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A Trip to Remember

5 May

My first trip, after not travelling since the pandemic, was to the country of Jordan. I chose this country because my family relocated there. I hardly knew anything about Jordan, and I was stunned to find a beautiful country, wonderful people, fabulous food and exhilarating sites. We stayed in Amman and visited Petra, Wadi Rum, the Dead Sea and Aqaba.

Amman is a typical bustling, major city except for the archaeological site the Citadel perched on a hill. I did not visit it personally, but it was beautiful to see from afar.

A trip to Jordan must include the ancient city of Petra. Although the architecture seems to be Greek and Roman inspired, Petra was built by the Nabateans, an Arab Bedouin tribe. The Romans eventually ruled the city. When you arrive to Petra, the entrance is breathtaking (see photo below).

My family rode on a donkey with a Bedouin guide (below), while I zigzagged through the mountains on a golf cart before I walked the open terrain. For an interesting historical article about the area, read this article from the History channel.

Wadi Rum is the desert with rich, orange sand. The classic movie Lawrence of Arabia was filmed there. We took an all-terrain vehicle on bumpy ride with the backdrop of a mountainous view worthy of a picture postcard. Then we arrived at geodeisic domes (see below) or bubble tents. I guess you can see we went glamping. The arches, mountains and cliffs were breathtaking. Sleeping under the stars was beautiful.

The resort towns in Jordan are luxurious. We stayed in Aqaba with a view of the Red Sea. Then it was off to the Dead Sea, to swim and spa at at a luxury hotel. We treated ourselves to mud baths and sea salts. Please see a photo of my son below. After our spa treatment, my son described us as “glowing.” The photo below does not do it justice as I think we looked washed out!

Even if we did not sparkle, in my opinion, the trip and the adventure did!

You Gotta Have Friends

30 Mar

The Friendship in West Bloomfield, Michigan is an amazing place. The mission is “to create friendship in the lives of children, teens and adults with special needs and those facing isolation while providing opportunities to become contributing members of the community.”

Here is an article about a Friendship Circle event I wrote for the Detroit Jewish News.

Friendship Circle Showcases the Talent from Soul Studio Art Program During Elegant Evening in Palm Beach County

By

 Carla Schwartz

 

Dylan and Jeannine Somberg
Dylan and Jeannine Somberg. (Liza Kue/Friendship Circle)

“Soiree in the Sunshine State” was filled with extraordinary art, food and libations.

“This was a crazy idea we had a year ago, but our friends helped us” said Rabbi Levi Shemtov of Friendship Circle. The rabbi is referencing “Soiree in the Sunshine State,” an event filled with extraordinary art, food and libations. More than 160 patrons and friends attended the event and auction.

The evening began with schmoozing and viewing the exhibition at the Arts Warehouse in Delray Beach, Florida. A variety of media, from oil paintings to ceramics to digital art and more by Soul Studio’s participating artists filled the space. Upon entering the gallery, visitors were handed a booklet of the displayed artwork and an explanation of the artist’s inspirations. The auction raised $33,300.

Friendship Circle, founded in 1994 by Rabbi Levi and Bassie Shemtov in West Bloomfield, is a nonprofit organization that supports children, teens and adults with special needs and their families. One of its many projects is the Vera and Joesph Dresner Foundation Soul Studio. The studio is a professional art space and gallery encouraging the creativity of any individual with cognitive or physical disabilities, regardless of artistic talent. Completed artwork is displayed in a curated exhibition at the studio and other venues.

Left to right: Estelle and Phillip Elkus; Gail Danto and Art Roffey; and Rick and Dana Lowenstein.
Left to right: Estelle and Phillip Elkus; Gail Danto and Art Roffey; and Rick and Dana Lowenstein.

“The vision of the Rebbe inspired us to help one person at a time and to see the bigger picture,” said Bassie Shemtov. “We have many friends in Florida, and we needed to bring the artists and the artwork to the next level,” she added. She described the Arts Warehouse space as a new and exciting platform to showcase the talent.

Artist Dylan Somberg, 28, of Shelby Township, who has autism, had three artworks on display. One was a ceramic clam with a pearl inside and the others were multimedia paintings.

“I just love animals, and I’m very passionate,” Somberg said. One animal painting had a three-dimensional look with turtles, fishes and birds suspended. His fascination with nature and geometric shapes combines many processes and techniques.

Rabbi Levi and Bassie Shemtov
Rabbi Levi and Bassie Shemtov

Dylan’s mom, Jeannine Somberg, praised Friendship Circle and the Soul Studio. “This is a special place, because my son is safe there, and his self-esteem soared,” she said. “I know they don’t see a disability; they see an ability,” she added.

Proud supporters Estelle and Philip Elkus, of Bloomfield Hills and Boca Raton, were part of the host committee and have been involved with Friendship Circle since the beginning. They introduced others to the programs.

“My friends, Estelle and Philip Elkus, took me on a tour of Friendship Circle, and I was amazed,” said Rhoda Tobin, of Orchard Lake.

Rhoda Tobin
Rhoda Tobin

Friendship Circle is a family affair for Gail Danto and her husband, Art Roffey, of Palm Beach Gardens. “We were involved with the Soul Studio when it was just an idea,” Danto said. Her brother and sister-in-law, Jim and Sandy Danto, were also on the host committee.
Dana and Rick Loewenstein, of West Bloomfield, came to support their friend Ron Hodess, who is chairman of the board. The Loewensteins are longtime supporters of people with disabilities and are also supportive of the inclusive environment of the Soul Studio. Rick Loewenstein is the former CEO of JARC.

With the artists, the artwork and all the supportive friends, it’s evident the magic of the Soul Studio came to the Sunshine State. Bassie Shemtov summed up the vision: “Miracles do happen.”

Carla Schwartz is the former editor of Style magazine, a former Jewish News columnist, community relations consultant and blogger. Visit her blog at motownsavvy.com.

Pampering with Heart & Soul

14 Feb

Simply from the Heart is a non-profit foundation that brings complimentary bedside, beauty pampering to patients who are terminally ill or undergoing prolonged hospital stays. Founder Jackelyn Kastanis started the the foundation after the death of her childhood friend Brooke Bolley. Kastasnis was able to lift Booke’s spirit with a glam makeover. The addition of lipstick, hair styling, a coat of nail polished and mini-massages added pleasure and color.

Today Simply from the Heart has served more than 7,000 patients since its inception in 2014. The “Glam Squad,” a group of volunteers, visits the patients with pampering services and then leaves a “Glam Box” filled with more than 25 beauty products.

“We bring a distraction from the treatment and diagnosis and provide human connection and interaction.” says Kastanis.

I personally know Jackelyn Kastanis, and she is a dynamic, passionate founder with a huge heart! And, they service Beaumont Children’s Hospital in Michigan where I was the former director of community affairs for the hospital system.

You can touch the lives of ill children by participating in the upcoming Night of Giving event on Friday, February 18th at 6:30pm located at Paul Labrecque Salon and Spa in The Royal Poinciana Plaza. https://e.givesmart.com/events/p7d/

If you don’t live in the Palm Beach area, you can donate or get involved. Visit the link https://sftheart.org/

Shopping with Benefits

1 Mar

Yes, there are friends with benefits. Now you can shop with benefits by shopping for a worthy cause and supporting small women-owned businesses.

Jewish Women’s Foundation of the Greater Palm Beaches (JWF) works to advance the status of all women and girls locally and nationally through strategic grantmaking, advocacy and education and leadership development programs to create social change.

JWF partnered with some stylish businesses who will donate 20 percent of all sales now through March 14, 2021 with the promo code JWF21.SHOP NOW.

From elegant purses to jewelry, to handknit children’s sweaters to flavorful coffee and spices, there is something for everyone on your shopping list. Here are the names of the partner vendors: Daniella Ortiz, The Elegant Hostess, Chik Monk, M.R. Marti Rosenburgh, Accessories for U, Name Frame and More, Skinnytees, Finn+Me, Flavour de La Baye, Voyage Boutique International, Lema J, Jolie Altman, Seacret and JWF branded products.

Designs by Jolie Altman
Purses by Daniella Ortiz
Canine accessories by Finn + Me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again,  here is the link for shopping and the link for our spectacular virtual event March 10.

Creative Carter

17 Feb

He’s young. He’s fashionable. He was raised in Motown. And he even has musician, Paul Banks, modeling his latest creations. Meet fashion designer, Carter Altman, a recent New York University graduate. His label is Carter Young. He was recently featured on Vogue’s website — http://www.vogue.com

View some of his latest designs here. To shop Carter Young, click here.

Photo: Roeg Cohen

(Full disclosure: I know the family, and they are all talented!)

Enchanting Images

25 Jan

Marla Michele Must prefers to be called a portrait artist instead of a photographer. She has credentials to back this up as she is designated by Master Photographers International.

Her portraits tell a story, but her personal journey with photography is just as fascinating. When Must decided to adopt a child from China to add to her family of two children, she knew she wanted to capture all the emotions of the newly formed relationship between the siblings. Thus began her reintroduction to photography which she always loved as child. 

As a child she was also a ballet dancer studying at Interlochen, an internationally-acclaimed art academy in Michigan. So it was natural for Must to photograph dancers as well.

Everything aligned to established a portrait studio Enchanted Photography, located in Birmingham, Michigan, now celebrating its tenth anniversary. 

During this Covid quarantine time, Must established unique photo sessions, socially-distanced, for senior high school students. “I’ve been making senior portrait sessions very special and creative with the locations,” explains Must. She often uses nature as a backdrop, but the location depends upon the student’s personality. If the student is a hockey player, the locale could be an ice arena. 

“I really love working with kids,” says Must, who is impressed by the student’s resilience and positive attitudes. She views her collection of student portraits as art. 

Enchanted Photography is indeed enchanting..

 

 

Mask up Artfully

4 Dec

I’m amazed at some of the creative, artful masks. Not only can you stay safe wearing a mask, you can support local artists and businesses. I’m going to highlight three talented Detroiters, who are making masks.  Not only are they impressive artists, they are also accomplished writers.  I’m proud to say I know them personally.

Karen Buscemi is the founder the Detroit Garment Group (DGG), a registered 501(c)(3) public charity, providing education and opportunities for Michigan’s fashion community. She is also the CEO of Detroit Sewn, a woman-owned small business manufacturing PPE equipment including masks. Detroit Garment Group and Detroit Sewn are keeping people employed while providing a needed service. Please note the vital safety information about mask wearing on the Detroit Sewn website.

Megan Swoyer is a watercolor artist. Her designs are colorful, exuberant and just happy. You can find them on scarves, tea towels, notepads and yes masks. Click here for the 2020 gift guide. 

Dominic Pangborn is best known in Detroit for his men’s ties. But his artistry goes way beyond ties and way beyond Motown. His collections are amazing.  Please check out his website here.  Tote bags, scarves, pocket squares and just some of his creative designs. Here is a photo of a mask and matching scarf. 

These three artists, Karen Buscemi, Megan Swoyer and Dominic Pangborn, all deserve a post written just about them. I will in the future. 

For now, stay safe and mask up!

Trade Secrets to Empower Women

11 Nov

One of my favorite events in Motown is Trade Secrets, where successful  women give inspiring advice. The event raises funds for the JVS “Women to Work” program. I know about the program first hand. This program provides unemployed women (those displaced from the workforce and those never in the workforce) with job search training, career assessment and market-ready skills. “Women to Work” helps with resume building and most important confidence boosting.

This year’s virtual event 7 p.m. Nov. 19 features Suzy Farbman (below) as the keynote speaker. Suzy is my friend and colleague. She is a dynamo– a compelling storyteller and an extraordinary person. Her latest book is GodSigns. The tagline reads “Health, Hope and Miracles, My Journey to Recovery.” Suzy, who has appeared on the Oprah show, weaves a spiritual account of her path overcoming adversity. Here’s an apt description of the uplifting book:  “Think of the startling truth and eye-opening adventure of Eat, Pray, Love.”

For more about the book, please click here.

To date, the 2020 Trade Secrets event has raised more than $238,000 through sponsorship and ticket sales to empower unemployed women. To purchase a ticket click here

Art with Heart

30 Sep

 

The annual Detroit ORT and the City event has a new format this year due to the pandemic. Now, the entire world can attend an on-line art auction of 31 one-of-a-kind works designed by emerging and nationally recognized Motown artists.

ORT challenged the artists to create a piece in his/her specific medium that communicates the theme “what’s in your heart.” The mixed media collage, above, is by artist Ilene Kahan. The miniature ceramic pieces forming a work of art, below, is by Elysia Vandenbussche.

Here are the 31 participating artists: Jolie Altman, Davin Brainard, Marlo Broughton, Julie Chernow, Leah Cohen, Kaysi Grimes, Forrest Hudes, Ilene Kahan, Jennifer Kroll, Andie Labgold, Eric (elcappy) Lowry, Sheefy McFly, Alanis McNier, Stevie Miller, Sam Morris, Troy (TYP) Murray,  Marla Must, Henry Newell, Nic Notion, Jaime Pattison, Cristin Richard, Brenda Rosenberg, Paula Schubatis, Clinton Snider, Gerry Spring, Dessislava (Dessi) Terzievas,, Rachel Elise Thomas, Elysia Vandenbussche, Natalie Wadlington, Melissa Webb, and Errin Whitaker.

The ORT and The City online art auction preview will begin on Thursday, October 15th.

Bidding will begin on Sunday, October 18th at 10:00 a.m. ET and end on Wednesday, October 21st at 10:00 p.m. ET.

The registration link will be available once the auction preview goes live on Sunday, October 18th. Be sure to follow ORT Michigan on social media or visit https://ortamerica.org/ort-and-the-city/ for links and updates.

Once the preview goes live through the end of bidding, you will be able to see photos of the art, as well as watch videos from the artists discussing their piece.

There’s also an exciting raffle, with the winner being pulled on October 21st at 10:05 p.m ET via Facebook live. The winner gets to choose from 1 of 3 exciting prizes:  $2,500 gift card to American Express; $2,500 gift card to Peloton; or a $2,500 gift card to Amazon.  Tickets are $25 each or 3 for $50, 10 for $100, or 25 for $200.

The Presenting Sponsor of the ORT and the City on-line auction is TCF Bank.  Other event sponsors include: Michigan Healthcare Professionals, Kenwal, Deb and Steve Rosenthal, Mackey & Mackey, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Pophouse, Kroll Construction, the Forbes Company, IVF Michigan, the Mike Morse Law Firm, Kelle and Chris Illitch.

For 140 years, ORT has been around the world, transforming lives through training and education. Founded in 1880, ORT is one of the largest, global non-governmental education organizations, whose network of schools, colleges, and international programs, provides more than 300,000 at-risk students each year in more than 30 countries with the necessary tools to develop meaningful careers and lead fulfilling, independent lives.

For more information, please contact the ORT Michigan office at 248-723-8860 or michigan@ortamerica.org.

 

 

 

 

 

My Al Kaline Moment

9 Apr

When I was editor of Style magazine (no longer published), our team picked 20 iconic Detroit Stylemakers for the 20th anniversary issue.

I had the opportunity to interview Al Kaline in 2005. He chose Comerica Park, the home of the Detroit Tigers. We met in the stands, while the team practiced. He was nice, gracious and humble. He talked about how much he loved baseball and the Detroit Tigers. In 2005, he was the special assistant to Dave Dombroski, then president of the Detroit Tigers.

But in his opinion, his proudest accomplishment was not his baseball prowess — it was being married 50 years to his high school sweetheart. We both teared up when he said it.

The photo above is a picture from the magazine.

What a special baseball player and special person!  RIP no. 6.

 

Photography by Glenn Triest.

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